Course Information


Design Studies 501 : Wearable Technology               SPRING 2018

Monday and Wednesdays 1:20-3:50pm | NANCY NICHOLAS HALL 3190



Kevin Ponto

Marianne Fairbanks


Credit Hours: 3


Office (student) Hours:

Marianne-3220 Wednesday 12-1pm or by appointment

Kevin-3130 NNH Wednesdays 4-5pm or by appointment



TUMBLR: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Course Objectives:

This class is meant to give students hands-on experience in building wearable computing platforms.  Students will learn fundamentals of both AC and DC circuitry, basic microcontroller programming, techniques of sensor integration and interfacing for external machines. Machine sewing, laser cutting, and the basics of working with soft conductive materials will also be covered. Students will produce a final project, poster and presentation that will be showcased to the public.


The class is designed for students who:

  • Have a background in textile and apparel design and are looking to take their work in new directions


  • Have a background in computer science or engineering and are looking to explore new interface technologies.


  • Have a background in media arts or robotics and have experience interfacing with microcontrollers and sensors


By the completion of the completion of the course students will:

  • Have fundamental knowledge of electronic circuitry, programming, and “maker skills” such as sewing, soldering, couching, and spinning.
  • Be able to successfully plan out, develop, document and create a project that utilizes technology and wearable components.
  • Be able to showcase work through poster and verbal communication in an event for the public.


PreReqs: This course has no official pre-requirements.  Students will be learning new skill sets and will be expected to be strongly motivated.


Course Fee: $65: This will cover materials needed to complete the initial part of the class. You will need to purchase additional materials to complete your final project. This will be automatically charged to your university account.


Anticipated Audience: Students may have backgrounds in Design Studies, Computer Science, Art, Electrical / Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Theater.


Course Format: The course will blend the lecture/discussion and studios styles.  Most classes will consist of a vast amount of time dedicated to hands-on learning.  Students will build skills over the first half of the class with the second half of the course being dedicated to final project.  These final projects will be presented in a public forum in which the students will be expected to showcase their work.

Expectations for the credit hour are met the expectation that students will spend a total of 135 hours (45 hours per credit) in the studio/lab and also out of studio/lab working on learning activities. This includes both scheduled class times and outside work time. Students can expect that half or more of the time for this course will be in the studio/lab.



More than three absences (during the entire semester) WILL LOWER your earned final grade by one letter grade (i.e. an A will become an AB). Three late arrivals equal one absence.  Absences will only be excused given a letter describing the reason for the absence from an authoritative figure.


All projects are to be finished by critique date and must be present at the start of the class.

Late work will NOT be accepted. (Grade will be 0)


Please notify your instructor via email in case of extended illness or any other problem that may interfere with class attendance.  Send your work with another student if you are ill on the day of the critique.



This is an expectation in all classes. Academic integrity requires that the work a student presents to an instructor honestly and accurately indicates the student’s own academic efforts. Students in this class have the right to expect that their fellow students are upholding the academic integrity of this University. Please refer to the University’s website for complete information and policies regarding academic misconduct.



We wish to fully include persons with special needs in this course. Please let us know if you need any accommodations in the curriculum, instruction, or assessment procedures of this course to enable you to succeed. We will work with you to develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. Please note that official university services and accommodations require documentation from the McBurney Disability Resource Center on campus (702 W. Johnson, 608-263-2741,,



According to campus-wide policy on religious observance, we invite you to notify us within the first three weeks of class of the specific dates for which you request relief for religious observance, since these may affect your ability to meet course deadlines.


Accommodation of any special needs (recognized disabilities, absences for athletic meets, etc.) must requested of each instructor by the end of the second week of each module. Students must also inform the instructor in advance of days they will be absent for religious holidays. Instructors will try to make reasonable accommodations in accordance with university policies.


If problems come up during the course of the semester, be sure to let your instructor know. This might relate to matters of health, approaches to your work, etc. We will try to help you find solutions, but will be more helpful and much more flexible if you talk to us before issues become crises. We will maintain the confidentiality of any information you share with us.


INSTITUTIONAL STATEMENT ON DIVERSITY: “Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background – people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.”


Our intention is to be inclusive and welcoming so that all students feel comfortable in the classroom while also being challenged to learn and grow.  If a class topic or discussion makes you feel unwelcome or unsafe please talk to me about your concerns.  If you are not comfortable speaking directly to one of us, you can contact SoHE’s Senior Assistant Dean, Annette McDaniel,

Please intervene in incidents of hate and bias when you can, and report incidents to me—if you feel comfortable—and/or to the UW-Madison hate and bias reporting system:

We and the University are dedicated to addressing reports of hate and/or bias seriously, promptly, confidentially, and sensitively. Reports can include, but are not limited to, crimes such as vandalism or physical assault; non-academic misconduct such as online or verbal harassment or disruptive behavior; and/or microaggressions such as derogatory or demeaning speech from another student, TA, or faculty/staff member. A Hate and Bias Incident Team member will respond to your report and provide you with options meet your needs. You can also report anonymously.


For more information, support, and resources regarding addressing hate and bias on campus, please visit

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions/concerns/suggestions.



There are many services on campus that can help students who are having difficulties. Here are a few helpful links to useful resources:


Master list of student services (including counseling, learning support,  McBurney Center, safety department and SAFE  nighttime services, LGBT campus center, Dean of Students office, financial aid,  etc.)


University Health Service:


GUTS (Greater University Tutoring Service)


Tutoring help and other assistance for SoHE classes through Sohe Student Academic Affairs Office, 262-2608

Important deadlines set by the registrar:


FOOD PANTRY– “The Open Seat”

Spring Hours: check online:

Located in room 4209, 4th floor- Student Activity Center (SAC)

      Please drop by anytime we are open or email us at if the scheduled times don’t work for you.


Please contact your instructors via email if you should become sick.  If possible, send your work with another student in the class or a friend if you have a project due.  


Support your own good health with frequent hand-washing and by trying to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Influenza virus spreads through close contact with respiratory droplets, which generally means touching a contaminated surface with your hands and then touching your hands to your face. These hygiene measures are among the most powerful precautions you can take for yourself, as it will be impossible for every surface to be disinfected every time anyone touches it.



GRADES: Your final grade in this class will be calculated on the following formula:

5 % Technique Samples

10 % Reading Responses

10%  Assignments

10%  Quizzes

20% Project Posts

10% In-Class Presentations

10% Project Poster and Presentation

20% Final Project

05% Project and Course Reflection/Cleanup


The percentage breakdown for final grade calculation:

93-100   =   A

90-92     =   AB

83-89     =   B

80-82     =   BC

70-79     =   C

60-69     =   D

<=59  =   F


Information on UW-Madison’s grade calculation can be found at this website:


Details on the method used to grade each of these objectives are as follows:




Craftsmanship: Your skill at executing your ideas in your projects. Your sensitivity to the presenting the best possible completed and finished work.


Design Quality: The degree of visual organization in materials and elements that make up your work.


Expressiveness: How well does your work express themes and concepts you have defined.


Level of Intention and concept development: The degree of uniqueness, imagination and freshness apparent in the work. Did you develop your ideas with sensitivity to concept? Without cliché? Did you research, conduct material investigation, and consider several outcomes before committing to the final work?


Commitment: You must be prepared for class, have appropriate materials with you, and leave your loom and work area clean at the end of each session. Did you follow directions? Were you willing to participate in the community of the classroom by participating in discussions and critique?


Functionality: Does the project function as it should? When you ran into problems did you problem solve to find a new solution?




Technique Samples: This component is used to get all students prepared for their final project.  Students will demonstrate skills learned in class in developing successful samples.

Assignments and Quizzes:  Assignments will be posted on the course website.  This will generally be directed towards discovering more information about the field of interest.  Quizzes will be used to ensure proficiency for wearable technology concepts.


Cleanup: The cleanup grade is used to ensure that the spaces used for the class are not left in an untidy fashion.  Each time a space is left in an unsatisfactory fashion, the parties responsible will lose 1 point from their final grade.  If the parties cannot be identified, all parties will lose this point.  There is no cap on these reduced points (i.e. deductions can be greater than 5%)


Project Post:  Students will be required to do weekly postings in for the progress of their final project.  Posts that are submitted late will receive an automatic 50% reduction.  Posts that are incomplete will also receive reduced credit.


Project Poster: For the final showcase, students will be expected to make a poster.  Details for the items to be included in the poster will be posted on the course website.


Project Showcase: This part of the grade is intended to assess the final result of the project.  The project will be judged for functionality as well as aesthetic quality.  The projects should be able to be considered proof of concepts for their intended purpose


When: ( 4:30-7 probably)

Masonic Temple Madison Masonic Center, 201 Wisconsin Ave.